“Cheers to Mansfield Town… you gave us a scare.”

I don’t know how some of you will feel about the first part of this blog, but I feel compelled to write it just the same.

Mansfield deserved a draw…
There… I said it.

I think their whole approach to this cup-tie was excellent. 
There are clubs in their position that would have simply got all “up-n-under” and made it a purely hybrid Sam Allardyce, meets Tony Pulis, meets Pub Team, physical battle…
… but Mansfield didn’t do that.

Okay sure… they were physical… at some times, even direct…
… but they also spent large parts of that game trying to pass it around, in what our very own manager would describe as “possession based, death by football”.

I’ve heard and read a fair number of opinions on that game… (and provide an analysis of our performance below) …but in unbiased terms, I reckon it was just a good game of football. (as good as it could be on a pitch like that anyway.)

The weather contributed to making their pitch a mess… but it actually looked like they’d tried to dry it out and clean it up, and make it playable… and put on their best face for the viewing UK public than can’t even spell Mansfield, let alone know where it is…
…where there have been times in the past, when teams have deliberately watered pitches down, in an attempt to prevent “better” silky skilled players from higher league teams from “playing football”

How many teams have we faced since 1989?
How many of them… when a game against us represented a cash-cow… closed off 96 seats and placed the names on them?
Teams helmed by blokes with decades of experience in football have done fuck-all…
… but a team helmed by a 20ish blonde who looks like she should be on the arm of a footballer, or reporting about them from a SkySports desk, rather than actually running their fuckin team, did that.

So Cheers to Mansfield Town, and much Respect!

Our winning goal created an inevitable “shitstorm in a teacup” because of the player involved…
…and because of all I’ve just written, to be perfectly honest… there is a part of me that almost wishes Luis’ goal had been ruled out and Mansfield had gotten their replay.
I think they fuckin deserved it over the 90 minutes.

… However unrealistic… and it is… there is a part of me that wishes he’d have turned around…
…and with the same fervor he waves his arms about and claims for handballs and penalties and protests his “onsideness”… he’d have waved the Ref down and said, “no, no… it was handball”.

As I said… that is totally unrealistic…
Again to their credit, Paul Cox, the Mansfield Manager, himself said that it was just one of those things, and if it had been down the other end, he’d have taken it all day long.
One of their own Strikers, himself said, “if it gets me on the scoresheet, hay, I’d have taken it” or words to that effect.
… but I still wish we hadn’t won that way…

Make no mistake though, as much as I wished the World were a place where honor and honesty ruled… I’m aware enought o know that it just isn’t… shame but there it is… and as a result, the other part of me is glad to be past that oil-laden, banana skin and through the other side of it, where we can get back to …ah shit… facing Oldham on their patch….
Ultimately, we absolutely did not need the extra game, for sure… but we can’t say that Mansfield weren’t good for it.

From their nod of the hat to Hillsborough, to their approach to the game, to not only, their acceptance of the “controversy”, but their stated opinion of it, Mansfield Town showed everybody in the world that the “Magic of The F.A. Cup” isn’t some long-lost mythic tale of days gone by.
It would be gilding-the-lily in the extreme to suggest they single handedly put the luster back on that faded-glory of an idea… but when people refer to “the Magic of the FA Cup” …that tie was what they were referring to…
Plucky little non-league mining town… were “well up for it” and in their own little version of our own “great European Nights”, gave the 5 times Champions of Europe a run for their money!

Pity the commentators and pundits couldn’t show the same fuckin dignity, but that’s commentators and pundits for ya!

… Maybe Suarez could consider paying for Paul Cox’s Honeymoon?

For our part…
It was good to see Danny Sturridge so confidently take his debut goal for LFC.
It was less good to see his American Football end-zone dance in celebration of it.
You’re at LFC now Danny not Stamford Bridge, lay off eh?
I was critical of his signing initially.
I was revising my position and softening to it by the time he’d signed.
… but I DID like what I saw of him on Sunday… and can see elements of what people who wanted him were on about.

As I said, I thought he took his goal very well.
He then got a bit cocky and allowed the keeper to get the better of him twice in the subsequent 30 minutes… they were chances he should have easily put away… but he looked a bit like the first goal had convinced him “this keeper is shit I’m on for a debut hattrick here” (to be honest, and in fairness to him, that’s pretty much what I was thinking) and as a result, he was a little too casual in taking the other chances that came his way.

Some will suggest that’s a bit harsh.
Maybe it is, but I don’t think so… I’m just trying to analyze his debut.
What you absolutely want, in a striker particularly, is a bit of swagger.
All the greats have had it. An almost unshakable “I’m gonna score here and there’s nothing you can do to stop me” mentality. Keegan had it, Kenny had it, Fowler had it, Nando had it and misplaced it, Luis has it, even though he often doesn’t score. RVP has it Thierry Henry had it, Anelka and Drogba had it… etc…
…and Daniel Sturridge definitely looks like he has that “swagger” about him.
He’s obviously not fit… he looked like a Joe-Cole-Two-Pack-a-Day-Man after about only 15 minutes of that game… so maybe its was more a case of him clearly not being fit and his physical “touch” to put them away not quite being there yet, as opposed to a mental issue.
But suffice to say, that little criticism aside, I’m now really looking forward to seeing Sturridge play alongside Luis Suarez… if these two can learn to play together… that could really be something to watch.

The rest of Our Bunch… what can I say… thought there were some pretty dour performances out there… particularly in the 2nd half… in spite of the bog of a pitch.

Overall, I’m a bit concerned with how badly some of Jonjo Shelvey’s performances have dropped. And for me, this game was a microcosm of his season so far. Really terrific in spurts… he put Danny through for his goal and repeated that several times… but over the 90 minutes he faded in and out of the game, as he has done a number of times.

Joe Allen… what has happend to this guy… was he riding hype, is he just exhausted?
…coz he looks like shit over the last month or so…
I’m left wondering what he brings to the side sometimes. I know some love him, but if you wanted sideways crabcake footy, Lucas, Hendo and even Adam were capable of that. All our midfielders seem very similar to one another at times to me… For 15 million could we have gotten someone more in the Mascherano/Sissoko mold?? I don’t think we have a physically imposing midfielder.
Lucas puts himself in there, as does Hendo and even Allen tries to… but its not the same as having someone who simply IS physical… and by that, I don’t mean a bruiser, but someone who is physically imposing. To clarify… the Masch wasn’t a particularly “big” lad but he played… or “went in” …big.
I’m honestly left wondering in some games if we’d have been no worse with Adam or Hendo next to Lucas and used the 15 million to get Studge in August??
The other weird thing about Allen, is that played Allen in Lucas role at the beginning of the season, with other players as the “playmaker”… but since Lucas returned, who has replaced him as a sub in every game? Henderson, with Allen roaming or pushing forward. So why didn’t he just use Hendo there in the first fuckin place and play Allen further forward, or just not buy him?
I dunno, maybe a bit harsh on the lad and he’ll grow, but I wonder if he’ll become a squad player, with us getting better players in midfield, if we are to progress. That’ll probably be a controversial opinion… and I’m willing to admit I could be entirely wrong.
And I thought Hendo did really well, given that he had little support (in that they both had poorish games continually conceding possession, especially as the game wore on,) from Lucas and Allen.

I thought Coates had a dodgy game, (rumours he’s on the chopping block to be sold?) as did young Jack Robinson. And if you can’t impress in a game like this??? …Of course, neither player has really been playing, which can’t be helping.
And I thought Suso was a bit of a waste of space also. I know there’s a terrific player inside Suso, I just know it. But we haven’t seen it much lately. Against a team of Mansfield’s level he should have been able to show it… pitch condition aside, but he really didn’t.

Downing was all huff, with no puff… though he did deliver some fine balls into space that we didn’t take advantage of… he’d have been on about 4 assists if our lads had played better… So I’ll give him a 5.5 out of 10… which is “Fuckin Great for Stewie”, like :)
As previously stated, wondering a bit about what has happened to Jonjo Shelvey? He looked very promising last season and first part of this, but he’s been awful since we tried to turn him into a striker.
Wisdom was good and bad… it looked like it was his first game back from injury… so I’m giving him a pass overall.
Thought Carra was pretty solid, but started making some real howlers towards the end… you could see he was losing it, getting both nervous, frustrated and angry, by the way he kept bollocking players, even when they didn’t deserve it.
And credit to Jones for putting in a few very important saves, particularly as the defense in front of him began to wobble quite worryingly.

And then there’s Luis Suarez…. little scamp… just when he was redeeming his reputation… he goes and does THAT (The Ref’s view was partially blocked, and the linesman simply HAD to see that… but given WHO it was… it makes you wonder how they came to the instant conclusion that it was ball-to-hand???)
I’m not big on crediting one player with results in a team sport… but I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest we got through that tie because of him.
Ultimately, what matters is that we got through it…

… but Full Credit to Mansfield for giving us a game… and with it, a bit of a scare.

So that gives us 4 wins and 1 loss so far out of those 8 games I listed as “needing six wins” from… with the Mancs of The Evil Empire up next…
… and given that Fungus ordered up a whopping helping of Howard Webb and was immediately served it by the F.A. we’ll likely be on 4 and 2 by next Monday…
… but it’s a winnable game if we pluck up and get at them… and a draw is always on the cards in such a fixture… so looking good so far.

Its been said before about the Mancs, and its sounding a bit foolish to say it anymore… but they really are the poorest Manc side to sit top of the league. Without RVP, I think they’d be struggling it out for 3rd/4th… (but there again, where would we be without “a cheating racist Uraguyan”? ;) ) …so here’s hoping the Van Penis gets Pneumonia this week, coz you can bet the fucker’ll score against us.

Anyway, All the Best to Mansfield in their future endeavours…

For us… and I hope it wouldn’t be too painful for them… if the Reds players all turned out for the pre-match kick-about at the Toilet in white t-shirts with a handprint emblazoned on them and the name Suarez… just to piss off the Mancs… think that’d be quite a larf…

…and In True Luis Suarez Scampy Fashion… I Fancy a 3-2 win for us. :)